Midway Talk


Tragedy struck at the Indiana State Fair on the evening of Saturday, August 13. A quick moving storm with extreme winds caused the blow down of the event’s grandstand stage rigging. Roughly 12,000 people were in attendance awaiting a performance from Sugarland when the 70 mph winds struck. Over 40 people were injured, some of which are still hospitalized. As of the end of August, seven individuals have died as a result of the accident. The fair closed on Sunday, August 14 and reopened on Monday, August 15 with a memorial service in honor of the victims of Saturday’s horrific accident.

The storm’s wind surge that passed through the Indiana State Fairgrounds’ grandstand area was relatively isolated. Little damage was witnessed on other parts of the grounds including the midway. North American Midway Entertainment is the midway provider for the Indiana State Fair. N.A.M.E. President Danny Huston released a statement on Sunday, August 14. “The management and staff of North American Midway Entertainment wish to express their heartfelt condolences to those who lost loved ones and to those who have loved ones being treated for injuries following last night’s tragic accident at the stage collapse at the grandstand…We are praying for their healing and are keeping them in our hearts.”

N.A.M.E. staff members remained on hand while the fair was closed on Sunday, August 14 to assist in any way possible. According to Danny, “There were no reported injuries on the midway or from any North American Midway Entertainment employees or customers.”

The provider of the stage construction at the Indiana State Fair was Mid-America Sound of Greenfield, Indiana. N.A.M.E. has no affiliation with the company and was not involved with the grandstand entertainment or stage construction in any way.  

Spieth and Satow Auctions, Inc. is pleased to announce the acquisition of Norton Auctioneers of Michigan, Inc., as of Tuesday, August 23, 2011. Darin Spieth and Dan Satow are excited about the acquisition and look forward to this new opportunity. Both Spieth and Satow have over 55 years of combined experience in the auction business. They both worked in the Norton environment earlier in their careers. “We are excited about the acquisition and look forward to carrying on the Norton legacy with a great amount of renewed energy and enthusiasm,” according to Spieth. Norton is known for the auction and appraisal of amusement properties. Norton of Michigan will remain the moniker.

Gold Medal Products Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio has just released a new Dual Chili Cheese Machine for nachos, hot dogs, and more. The compact 15” W x 17” D machine serves up both chili and cheese toppings and allows concessionaires to serve one bag of cheese while another preheats. The machine holds two, 14-oz. bags on each side and runs on a standard 15-amp plug. Find out more at www.gmpopcorn.com.

Jeff and Holly Swartz of Hitch-Hiker Mfg. in New Middletown, Ohio travelled to California’s Sacramento State Fair and the Stanislaus County Fair in Turlock, CA to visit with a number of their customers. On their trip they saw Tom Stroud of Stroud Entertainment, Milo Franks of Milo Entertainment, and from Butler Amusements: owner Butch Butler, Mick and Kris Brajevick as well as Jill and Lance Moyer. Hitch-Hiker is currently building a concession unit for an independent operator in California. More on the new concession in the coming months.

Preliminary estimates indicate that attendance was up at the 2011 Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, KY. The fair ran from August 19 through August 28. North American Midway Entertainment provided the midway, offering more rides along the midway than last year’s edition. Popular food items included the new deep-fried Kool-Aid and deep-fried Derby Pie.

Two tractor-trailers owned by Reithoffer Shows were involved in a head-on collision on Tuesday, August 23. Both trailer loads were part of setup for the Champlain Valley Fair in Essex Junction, Vermont. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured and relatively minor damage was reported. The shows’ recently refurbished Yo-Yo was turned over on its trailer, but should be up and running soon.

Davis Enterprises of Fontana, CA provided the midway for the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden, Washington, August 15 – 20. This year marked an expanded midway that included a Drop Tower and Casino for the first time as well as the return of a Chance Zipper after an absence of the ride in recent years. The overall event was a success despite an instance of gang-related violence on the fairgrounds. Total attendance reached 219,292—up 1.3 percent from 2010. Saturday, August 27 saw a single-day attendance hit 43,138.

A powerful storm ripped through the Missouri State Fairgrounds in the early morning of Friday, August 19. The storm occurred during the eleven-day State Fair. The storm knocked out power and damaged several attractions on the midway including the back wall of Wade Shows’ Enterprise and Lowery Carnival’s Mardi Gras. The fair postponed Friday’s opening until 3:00 p.m. once debris was cleaned up and power restored.

The debut of Dartron’s new attraction, The Rave, went according to schedule at the Minnesota State Fair, August 5 – September 5. The ride is owned by Playworld Amusements’ Kyle Brady. According to Albert Frieden of Dartron, the ride will receive some minor adjustments to its painting scheme in the near future. Kyle also added a television monitor to the ride to allow fairgoers passing by to see riders inside the ride. A full report on The Rave coming soon.

IAFE is gearing up for their annual convention and trade show held November 28 – December 1 in Las Vegas. Preliminary programming information is available at the IAFE website, www.fairsandexpos.com. The event will take place at the Paris Hotel.

OABA is now accepting applications for 2012 Directors and Hall of Fame nominations. Forms for nominations and applications are available at www.oaba.org or through the OABA office at 800-517-6222.

A new book by Les Bodnar entitled “Carnie” is now available through St. Augustine’s Press. The book is about carnival life before the Great Depression. The story is a memoir of Les’ time with his father’s carnival when he was a child. You may purchase the book from www.staugustine.net. It is also available through Amazon.com.

Attendance at the Montana State Fair was 9.1 percent higher than 2010. The 80th edition of the fair was held July 29 – August 6 in Great Falls, MT. The midway was provided by Mighty Thomas Carnival of Austin, Texas.

The Iowa State Fair in Des Moines was pleased with high attendance in 2011. A total of 1.08 million people visited the 2011 State Fair, second only to 2008’s 1.1 million. The fair was held August 11 – 21. Belle City Amusements of Deltona, FL provided the midway which was comprised of 33-plus rides. Rides included a Giant Wheel, Sky Wheel, Rock N Roll Himalaya, Drop Zone, Nitro, and Typhoon. Grandstand acts included Janet Jackson, Reba, Doobie Brothers, Def Leppard, Train, and Maroon 5. In response to violence at the fair in 2010, the Iowa State Fair enhanced their security in 2011. Fair officials implemented more state troopers inside the fairgrounds and Des Moines police outside the grounds. Visibility of the forces was heightened and more surveillance cameras were setup. Finally, community leaders were also a part of the successful efforts, patrolling the fairgrounds for suspicious behavior.

Opening weekend of the Colorado State Fair outdid last year’s opening days by over 12,447, hosting 36,833 on August 26 – 28. Saturday, August 27 was the highest attended of the three days with 69,135 in attendance compared to 59,136 on Day 2 in 2010. The Colorado State Fair is held in Pueblo, CO and runs from August 26 – September 5. Crabtree Amusements of Staples, TX provided the midway. This is their fourth year as midway provider.

The 2011 Richland County Fair in Mansfield, Ohio saw a twenty percent increase in attendance compared to 2010. The fair was held August 7 – 13 and was blessed with pleasant weather. Bates Brothers Amusement Company of Wintersville, OH provided the midway. According to the Mansfield News Journal, ride gross amounted $119,000 with $27,000 coming in on Saturday, August 13. Unlimited ride wristbands were available for $15.00.

Hurricane Irene affected carnivals and industry-related business across the East Coast on the weekend of August 27 – 28. The storm travelled along the coast from the Carolinas up into New England. Powers Great American Midways was forced to close the midway at the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, New York early in order to avoid the storm. Ticket Manufacturer, Worldwide Ticketcraft suffered damage at their New York office. Other fairs that altered their schedules due to the storm include the Maryland State Fair and the Windsor Fair in Windsor Maine.